Holy Week Festival online 2021

28 March – 5 April 2021


Also streamed on St John’s Smith Square and Tenebrae’s social media channels. Available to watch for 30 days afterwards.

Cost: free of charge (donations welcome)

Subscription to the whole festival via email advised. All subscribers will receive a digital festival programme, additional information about individual events and access to exclusive Q&A events

St John’s Smith Square and Tenebrae are delighted to announce the online Holy Week Festival 2021 running from Palm Sunday (28 March) to Easter Monday (5 April). The concerts will be streamed on the St John’s Smith Square website and all major social media channels, and will be free of charge with a request for donations. They will be also available to watch for 30 days afterwards.

Holy Week Festival’s maxim has always been ‘A Moment of Stillness from the Heart of the City’. When the festival was founded by Tenebrae and St John’s Smith Square in 2017, it was intended to provide an oasis of calm in an increasingly frenetic world; a brief pause in which to enjoy the exquisite choral music written for Lent and Easter. In 2021, ‘A Moment of Stillness’ has taken on an entirely new significance. Almost a year after the UK’s first lockdown, St John’s Smith Square’s home borough of Westminster remains eerily quiet, and people all around the world continue to stay at home. Tenebrae and St John’s Smith Square hope that this year’s online Holy Week Festival will provide solace for people all around the globe, of any or no faith, as we grieve for those we have lost but also look ahead to happier times.

Tenebrae will open the 2021 festival with a poignant Palm Sunday sequence featuring music by Tallis, Byrd and Poulenc (28 March), and its regular candlelit services will be live-streamed from St John’s Smith Square on Spy Wednesday, Maundy Thursday and Good Friday. The festival programme also features more instrumental music than in the past – something Tenebrae and St John’s Smith Square have wanted to achieve for some time. Violinist Lana Trotovšek will join Tenebrae’s four Associate Artists to perform music by Bach (29 March), and the Holy Week Festival is delighted to welcome The Revolutionary Drawing Room (30 March) as well as Bojan Čičić and Steven Devine (4 April).

Nigel Short, Artistic Director of the Festival said:

“We’re delighted to be working with St John’s Smith Square again, taking our annual Holy Week Festival online for 2021. While we can’t wait to perform for live audiences again, in the meantime we’re excited to make the most of new opportunities to use this wonderful space a bit differently, and for the festival to reach a global audience for the first time. While some of the events in our programme are liturgical in nature, they’re certainly not exclusive to those of the Christian faith. Music by composers including Byrd, Poulenc and Tallis, as well as Allegri’s celebrated Miserere, will be performed by candlelight in this beautiful venue. We hope to provide people all over the world with a vital moment of serenity as we look forward to brighter times ahead.”

Richard Heason, Director of St John’s Smith Square said:

“Holy Week is one of the most important times in our musical calendar at St John’s Smith Square. It’s core to our unique identity, and our ongoing collaboration with Tenebrae is a central focus of our creative purpose. During this time when we are all facing so many challenges we are therefore so delighted to be able to bring this festival forward, albeit repurposed to an online offer. We hope that, whilst our audiences remain at home, they will be able to share ‘A Moment of Stillness’ whilst looking ahead to when we can welcome everyone back to the concert hall.”

Thanks to funds raised through the Holy Week Festival ongoing Crowdfunder campaign (https://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/holy-week-festival-2021), the festival will be available to everyone to access free of charge.  To benefit from the full festival experience, the Festival encourages viewers to subscribe for free on St John’s Smith Square’s dedicated Holy Week Festival page (https://www.sjss.org.uk/holy-week-festival) using their email address. Subscribers will receive a digital festival programme, additional information about individual events, and access to exclusive Q&A events.

Holy Week Festival: https://www.sjss.org.uk/holy-week-festival

Holy Week Festival trailer: https://youtu.be/xMSHE_uE6vQ